How to Scale Up a Drawing in 4 Different Ways!

how to scale up a drawing

Art Ignition is supported by its audience. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More.

Did you fall in love with a rough sketch that’s a bit too small? Not sure how to start adjusting it to a larger size so that it can be painted or illustrated?

Well, don’t worry! This problem is not too difficult to deal with.

Many artists have the habit of sketching small. After all, it takes less time and resources to draw small, rough sketches.

SO! Over time, artists with similar habits have figured out several clever ways to scale up a drawing so that the original charm of the small drawing remains:

4 Ways to Scale Up a Drawing

The most common methods to start scaling a drawing are as follows:

  • Grid Method: Draw a grid over your original drawing and then draw an identical grid in a larger scale ratio on the surface you want to transfer the original drawing onto. After which, you can slowly copy the original sketch by using the grid lines as a reference.
  • Projector: Project the original drawing onto the surface you want to transfer it onto and trace along the projection to get a completely scaled drawing!
  • Pantograph: Use a pantograph with an adjusted scale to trace along the lines of your original drawing to get scaled drawings.
  • Printer: Scan your original drawing and enlarge it with a photo editor so that it can be printed out either on a larger paper or in several pieces of paper that can form a complete drawing.

For more detail on the following scale drawing methods, make sure to keep reading till the end!

Method 1: Grid Method

First, let’s talk about the classic Grid Method. It’s actually more commonly used to copy a reference photo or sketch so that the artist can start fresh on a new surface.

However, with the addition of some math, it becomes a very effective way to reduce or ENLARGE drawings! You can follow the tutorial below to learn more! You can also take a look at Jessica Hopper’s video tutorial on Gridding, which we’ll be referring to as we go along.

Step  1 – Overlay Grid on Original Drawing

The first step in using the grid method to enlarge a drawing is to overlay a line grid.

There are two ways of doing this! Manually and Digitally.

You can do this manually, like Jessica Hopper. She’s hoping to enlarge a reference photo, not a drawing. But the same principles apply. She printed out a copy of her reference photo, took out a ruler for accurate line-making, and began the process of creating the grid by making marks on the photo at every inch interval.

overlay grid on original drawing

After creating one-inch marks on all four sides of the reference photo, she then began to connect the marks to create the line grid.

how to scale

What’s notable in her example is that she excluded one column in her grid (shown in the image below) that she didn’t feel was necessary for the composition.

You can do the same! Whether for the same reason or because it would be easier to enlarge a scale drawing that doesn’t involve too many integers.

drawing scales

PRO TIP! As for the second method of overlaying a Grid on your reference photo or drawing, you can use a Grid App on your phone or tablet (e.g. “Grid #” on iOS) to get the same result with half the effort! All you have to do is upload a photo of the drawing you want to overlay a grid onto and then let the app do the rest of the work!

Step 2 – Measure the Desired Scale Ratio

Whichever method you choose in the end, the next step remains the same!

It’s time to draw out the math you learned in elementary from the nooks and corners of your brain. Ha! Jessica Hopper wanted to create a scale drawing that was double the size of her reference photo, so she directly doubled the length and width of the original measure.

measure the desired scale ratio

The result is a 14” x 9” ratio, which she uses later to draw a grid on the surface on which she wants to transfer the enlarged scaled drawing.

PRO-TIP! In order to make the following steps simpler, you can give your rows and columns a tag (e.g. “1, 2, 3, 4, etc.” and “A, B, C, D, etc.”). A clear example is shown in the image above!

Step 3 – Create a Grid on Full-Size Paper with a New Scale

Using the new ratio derived from her calculations, Jessica then took out her full-size paper to begin the transfer process of the scaled drawing.

For this, of course, another grid must be overlaid (shown in the image below). This time, to match the new ratio, each box is 2 inches long on all sides.

create a grid on full-size paper with a new scale

PRO TIP! By the way. To get accurate scaling with the Grid Method, it’s best to start with a straight line on one side and make marks along that line before proceeding. That way, you can have a place to use as an anchor. (Of course, you can skip this process if the surface you’re using is cut to the exact size of your scale ratio).

Step 4 – Transfer Drawing with Accurate Proportions

Next up! It’s time to start drawing!

The reason why scale drawings can be derived from the Grid Method conveniently is that you can focus on transferring details one square at a time and use the nearby squares as references to piece the entire composition together.

transfer drawing with accurate proportions

PRO TIP! You’re not limited to using only the original grids as your guide for the scaled sketch. If need be, you can break down the space of each square infinitely to capture the objects in the original drawing with smaller detail (example shown below!).

up drawings

Step 5 – Erase Grid Lines or Transfer Final Drawing

Once you’ve finished copying the small drawing over to the full-size paper, you’re technically done! The only thing left to deal with is the drawn lines that come with the Grid Method.

transfer final drawing

You can deal with these drawn lines by erasing them as Jessica Hopper did in her video (shown in the image above). OR, you can use transfer paper or graphite paper to transfer the enlarged drawing onto a cleaner surface to start off completely fresh!

Method 2: Projector

The next method of transforming a small drawing is the Projector Method. As you can probably guess from the name, this method makes use of the advantages of a projection device to superimpose an image onto a surface for you to trace.

If you want to see how it works in real life, you can check out @StudioWildLife’s video on projectors for artists — which we’ll be using as our reference for the following tutorial:

Step 1. Prepare Projector for Use

If you want to use a projector to create scale drawings, then you’ll need to prepare a projector and a wall that can be used to hang your full-size canvas or paper.

It’s best if you have a tripod mount for the projector that can be adjusted according to height. This way, you can get accurate scaling each time. If not, a relatively taller table or stool is fine.

prepare projector for use

PRO TIP! The projector recommended by the YouTuber @StudioWildLife was released in 2023 and is of the AuKing brand. A new model has been released in 2024 with even more advanced features. CLICK here to see its latest price!

Step 2. Upload Drawing to Tablet

Next, prepare the image of the drawing or reference photo on a digital device. @StudioWildLife chose an iPad for this, but you can use any computer, tablet, mobile phone, etc. that can be connected to your chosen projector.

As can be seen in the image below, he chose his tablet because it was convenient for him to use the app Procreate to edit and enlarge the image size of his chosen reference photo.

upload drawing to tablet

If you’re using your computer instead, you can choose to use computer software like Photoshop. The process remains the same! Just open the image on the software or app for use.

scale artwork

Step 3. Connect Tablet to Projector

Once you have your picture ready, it’s time to connect your device to the projector!

connect tablet to projector

Note! If you want to follow along with @StudioWildLife and use an iPad or tablet for this, you’ll need a USB C to HDMI cable to get it done. It’s best to prepare this early to avoid issues~

Step 4. Change Projection Length or Size

More likely than not, upon connecting your device to your projector, you’ll get the following result — the picture is either too big (shown in the image below) or too small.

change projection length or size

If this happens, you can increase or decrease the distance of the projector or adjust the lens if the difference in length and width is not too big. BUT, if it’s like the above image size and the scaling issue is too much, you’ll have to adjust it on your tablet or computer instead.

how to do a scale drawing

If you’re using Procreate like @StudioWildLife, getting the right scale is pretty easy. Just use the available editing functions to pinch the image smaller or bigger until it’s the right scale.

Step 5. Trace Projection!

Once the image is the right size, it’s time to draw! This step is pretty straightforward, just draw, or rather, trace along the lines of the projected image until the original drawing is fully transferred.

trace projection

Method 3: Pantograph

The next method is the Pantograph Method which is very popular for those who specialize in engineering! They use it to enlarge or reduce their designs as necessary, which just so happens to fit in with our needs for the day!

Just like the previous tutorials, we’ll be referencing a vlog by a YouTuber for the following demonstration. This time, it’s a vlog on Sketch-a-Graph by @Jazza!

Step 1. Prepare Pantograph

The first step required for the Pantograph Method is to obtain a Pantograph!

It can be like a cheap, artist-specific one used by @Jazza on his video or a more professional pantograph made of metal that is popular with engineers who use it regularly.

prepare pantograph

Step 2. Mount Reference on a Stable Surface

With a pantograph in hand, you can begin the drawing process! For this, it’s best to prepare a stable surface on which you can mount the original drawing and the full-size paper (just to prevent accidents later on.)

mount reference on a stable surface

@Jazza completed this step by taping all the corners of the papers (shown in the image below).

scale drawing easy

Step 3. Adjust Pantograph

The next step can be said to be more technical. It involves constant adjustment of the two screws on the pantograph device — let’s call them Screw A and Screw B in order to get the right scale for drawing.

Although a little tricky, once you get the hang of it, it’s actually not that complicated. The key thing is to let the Guide Pen (pointed out by @Jazza in the image below) lie on your original drawing proportionally with the Drawing Pen on the opposite side.

adjust pantograph

Step 4. Start Drawing!

Once you have the pantograph adjusted, you can start drawing! The way to draw with a pantograph is to keep an eye on the Guide Pen and apply pressure with the Drawing Pen as you trace along the original lines and details of the small drawing.

start drawing

As long as you have adjusted the pantograph appropriately, you can get an accurately scaled copy of the same image (shown in the image below), without much effort!

how to do a scale drawing

Step 5. (Optional) Reduce Size!

As a fun tip, you can also use the pantograph to reduce the size of a drawing or reference photo. Either by adjusting the scale to be smaller, or by flipping the Guide Pen and Drawing Pen over (this is a little finicky, but it can still get the job done!)

reduce size

Method 4: Printer

The last method for increasing the size of drawings is the Printer Method.

Just like with all of the previous scaled drawing tutorials, we’ll be using a video tutorial from YouTube as a reference that you can watch as you follow along!

Step 1. Open Image with Paint

To start, upload a picture of your original drawing onto your computer and open the image file with Paint.

open image with paint

(Note: Other photo editors, like Photoshop, can also be used for the same purpose! If you prefer Photoshop, then you can follow the basic steps shown below to get about the same result.)

Step 2. Select File > Print > Print Preview

After opening the image file on Paint, click File > Print > Print Preview.

print preview

Step 3. Click Print Setup > Scaling

If you follow the previous steps correctly, you should be moved to a new page, called “Print Preview”. There, you can see a different toolbar from the home tab.

scaling

The next thing to do is click Page Setup and wait for the “Page Setup” window to open (shown in the image below). Once that tab appears, you can choose between the following options to change the proportions of the original size of your drawing:

  • Scaling > Adjust To: Increase the size of the original object by a percentage. (e.g., adjusting the proportion to 200% will increase the size of the image by 200%).
  • Scaling > Fit To: Choose the measurements of the original object based on the number of pages (e.g., “2 by 2” will divide the original object and magnify it according to proportion so that it can fit on 4 pages in total.)

scale up art

Step 4. Print Image Pages

After deciding the image according to your decided scaling ratio, it’s time to print! For this, simply click the Print option after connecting your computer to your printer.

print image pages

Step 5. Piece Image of the Puzzle and Trace!

After all the pages have been printed, you can begin tracing the scaled image!

piece image of the puzzle and trace

Note: The original line drawing scaled by the YouTuber shown in the image above is based on a “3 by 3” scaling. Nine separate pages were printed accordingly!

Final Thoughts:

It’s really a great regret to abandon a sketch that you spent so much time on just because the original drawing was too small! But now that you’ve learned how to get scaled drawings repeatably, you can focus on other aspects of your art career.

For example, have you brushed up on your drawing skills recently? If not, go add some knowledge points with this unique Domestika course on portrait drawing with Renaissance techniques!

Like our Content?
Share It With Other Artists

Article Written By